Again. And again. And again.
Williams ran for 125 yards on 34 carries and the Dolphins rebounded from an embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans with a 21-10 victory over the rival Jets on Sunday. Miami won at the Meadowlands for the first time since 1997, and avoided its first 0-2 start in 15 years.
In the 21-20 loss to the Texans, Williams had just 17 carries for 69 yards. His effort against the Jets helped the Dolphins gain 187 yards on the ground, to just 21 for New York (0-2). The Dolphins also had the ball for over 11 minutes more than the Jets.
“We just did a good job of converting third downs early, and that opens everything up,” Williams said. “Like we said last week, if we had done a better job on third downs and with the passing game, then I would have gotten the ball a lot more.”
The victory keeps Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt off the hot seat, for now. Following the loss last week, Wannstedt and the Dolphins received heavy criticism for losing to a second-year team.
“These guys stepped up today and it started Monday in the preparation after last week’s game,” Wannstedt said. “We never really find out what’s inside us as individuals until we’re squeezed. Our football team responded.”
Despite the loss, Vinny Testaverde became the ninth quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 40,000 yards in his career, finishing 29-of-45 for 373 yards after a horrible start in the opening loss to Washington.
He tried to rally the Jets.
After jumping to a 21-3 halftime lead, the Dolphins stalled in the second half. The Jets had their chances to come back.
Shaun Ellis forced Jay Fiedler to fumble and Chester McGlockton recovered at the start of the fourth quarter. The Jets scored when Testaverde threw a 32-yard pass to Santana Moss with 12:42 remaining to make it 21-10.
They crossed midfield on their next possession, but the drive ended when Jason Taylor and Jay Williams sacked Testaverde. The Dolphins punted again, and the Jets crossed midfield again. But Patrick Surtain intercepted Testaverde to end the drive.
The Jets had another chance to score in the third. On their final possession of the period, the Jets put together a nice drive in which Moss caught a 61-yard pass and broke several tackles for a first-and-goal at the 9. They went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3, but Testaverde threw incomplete to Anthony Becht at the back of the end zone.
“We needed something positive to happen,” Jets coach Herman Edwards said. “I didn’t think kicking a field goal was going to do anything.”
Even Fiedler got into the action on the ground, gaining 35 yards on five carries. He ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished 14-of-19 for 190 yards, with one touchdown pass to Randy McMichael.
“We wanted to get Ricky going and we were able to get them out of their base defense to play something they don’t usually do and bring the safety up,” Fiedler said. “That allowed us to make some plays in the passing game.”
The Jets took a quick 3-0 lead with a 12-play drive, but that was their only sustained effort of the half. Miami then scored 21 unanswered points. Fiedler started the scoring with his TD run just before the end of the first quarter.
On the next scoring drive, Williams gained 18 yards on a draw on third-and-16. Fiedler then threw an 8-yard scoring pass to McMichael to make it 14-3.
And on their next possession, the Dolphins were poised to punt at the Jets 42. But new special teams acquisition Michael Bates jumped offsides, giving the Dolphins new life. They took advantage, and Williams scored on a 2-yard run just before halftime.
As the teams left the field, the restless crowd booed the Jets.
“Ricky was picking his holes real well and that makes it real tough,” Jets safety Jon McGraw said. “If you can’t stop the run, you’re in for a longday.”
Jets CB Donnie Abraham injured his shoulder in the second quarter and didn’t return. Coach Herman Edwards didn’t know the severity of the injury. … Moss had five receptions for a career-high 142 yards. … Chris Chambers had four receptions for 91 yards. … Wayne Chrebet moved past Al Toon for thirdplace on the team’s receiving yards list with 6,635 yards.